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All Conspiracy, No Facts?
Of all the suspects for world domination behind closed doors, the elite Bilderberg group is one of the most popular, attracting the attention of conspiracy theorists from its formation. This assembly of eminent Americans and Europeans first came together in 1954—taking its name from the small hotel that hosted the meeting—and ever since has been regularly convening at secret locations to decide on the management of the world's political and economic future. The quality of the members and their guest speakers, and the high security surrounding their meetings, has conjured up images of a secret cabal running the world.
The group was born from a belief that leading citizens from both sides of the Atlantic could come together one or twice a year to have frank, informal discussions to clear up any differences or misunderstandings that challenged the Atlantic alliance. In 1952, a former wartime Polish intelligence officer, Joseph Retinger, had approached Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands with the idea of such a gathering. There was a rising tide of anti-Americanism within Europe, prevalent among left-wing circles but also felt by the general population, and something needed to be done to maintain the West's defenses against the threat of Communism. There was a distinct feeling that Europe was acting irrationally in the face of American military and economic assistance such as NATO and the Marshall Plan. Was it really a case of biting the hand that feeds you? Or did the Europeans have very real grievances?
Prince Bernhard agreed to the idea and organized a confidential survey to be carried out among his international contacts, taking two contrasting political viewpoints from each of the countries in Europe. From this survey, Bernhard and Retinger drew up a summary document and sent it confidentially to some of the prince's American friends, who were invited to respond. Not that 1952 was the best year to ask for American frankness. It was an election year.
The next year, once the new president, Eisenhower, was inaugurated and settled down into the White House, Prince Bernhard traveled to Washington and paid a visit to his old friend Walter Bedell Smith, the director of the CIA. Smith directed him to C.D. Jackson, a special assistant to the president, who passed him further on to John S. Coleman, a member of the newly formed Committee for a National Trade Policy. It was left with the committee to draft an American reply to the European criticisms. One of those invited to respond was a figure central to all serious conspiracy theories about secret rulers of the world—David Rockefeller.
The two sides eventually met in May 1954 at the Hotel Bilderberg, near Arnhem in Holland. The group of statesmen, financiers, and academics spent three days surrounded by security guards and kept away from journalists. They pledged not to reveal publicly anything that was discussed, and this confidentiality allowed them to state their true feelings. The Europeans were concerned that a conservative Republican Party had won the election for the first time in 20 years and a soldier was now in the White House. The rants of Senator McCarthy and the book-burning actions of his anti-communist followers had reached into the US embassies of Europe. There was a genuine European fear that America was turning into a fascist state. The critics had seen enough in Europe over the last few decades to know the signs.
C.D. Jackson was given the opportunity to explain the McCarthy phenomenon. It all boiled down to freedom of speech and lack of party discipline. He made a prediction that proved to be correct: "Whether McCarthy dies by an assassin's bullet or is eliminated in the normal way of getting rid of boils on the body politic, I prophesy that by the time we hold our next meeting he will be gone from the American scene."
If McCarthy had been assassinated, one wonders how the Bilderberg group would have coped with the unfortunate sense of being part of a plot. One thing the group did not want to be was a Mafia-style Murder Incorporated. McCarthy's swift fall from grace convinced the Europeans that some good had come of the meeting, and annual conferences were planned. The pattern has not changed in over 50 years. The Bilderberg group take over an entire hotel in a secret location and surround it with tight security. Heads of state and future heads of state attend, and the press play games of cat and mouse, trying to glean gossip of the proceedings.
The key to understanding what goes on at the Bilderberg conferences is to always remember why the first one was called. It was to give the opportunity for Americans to hear European criticisms of their foreign and economic policies. The criticism has not always been one way; the 1956 Suez crisis, when France and Britain attempted to wrest back control of the Suez Canal, which had been nationalized by President Nasser of Egypt, caused great hostility between the American, British and French delegates. On the whole, though, the Americans always feel that they have to defend their policies. That is why there is little difference between the discussions at the beginning of the Bilderberg era and the most recent ones concerning the war in Iraq.
In 2002, the Bilderbergers met at Chantilly, Virginia, near Washington. The Europeans were angry at the US preparations for the war in Iraq. The Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, promised the delegates that war would not occur that year. That pledge was honored, but it did occur the following year.
In 2004, they met at the five-star Grand Hotel des Iles Borromees in Stresa, Italy, and there were angry protests about the bloody occupation of Iraq by American troops. These European complaints were paralleled by the European opposition to US military action voiced in the United Nations for all the world to hear. The Bilderbergers urged that the United Nations should be given a greater role in all future outbreaks of violence.
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Does the Bilderberg group constitute a secret society bent on running the world? The evidence suggests that it is primarily a forum for some pretty frank criticism of the American way of doing business in the world—but if they are no more than a debating society, who else could be pulling the strings?
To answer the question of Who Really Runs the World? one should have to look no further than the United Nations headquarters in New York. Here is an international institution that deals with issues affecting every nation on the planet. Because of the interconnectedness of countries, events unfolding in one part of the world will have knock-on effects elsewhere. Wars are monitored and, if necessary, contained from the UN, with its own military force, and peace is theoretically kept. Certain nations have superior voting rights, such as those on the Security Council (the US, the UK, Russia and China, for example), but less powerful nations are given the opportunity to exert certain degrees of influence. Nevertheless, the elite's right to veto votes that they don't like preserves the realistic power relationships. The debates and voting are open to public scrutiny. A very good example was the UN Security Council debates on whether to force a regime change in Iraq when Saddam Hussein was refusing to cooperate with UN weapons inspectors. The worldwide TV coverage allowed the public to witness the decision-making process live.
Although great patience was displayed by the US, it eventually brushed aside UN reservations, and led a coalition invasion of Iraq. The UN may be an honorable institution set up to discuss global management problems, but the United States has the military and financial might to do whatever it deems necessary in pursuit of international stability as viewed through its star-spangled glasses. The eventual public exposure of dirty tricks being played behind the scenes of the UN Security Council voting, with secret surveillance of critical nations' voting intentions, only confirmed suspicions that the world was being run in a very different way from the popular TV perception.
The United Nations had acted very differently just over ten years before, in 1991, when it sought support for an international military operation to liberate Kuwait from Saddam's illegal army of occupation. President George H.W. Bush rallied the international troops with speeches impressing the importance of victory in establishing a new world order. The old world order had recently crumbled with the fall of the USSR and the disappearance of the old bipolar world of the Cold War years. The United States, as the only surviving superpower, would have to take on a role of international policeman, but it was not going to do it alone. Other nations were given the opportunity to sign up for the ride and share in the glory of defeating a true villain on the international stage. The evil Saddam's Iraqi forces were kicked out of Kuwait in a fast display of US military might, but amazingly, he was allowed to keep control of his own country. That foreign policy error was rectified in 2003 by the next generation of high-tech US weaponry and the next generation of Bush presidency, George W.'s.
The change in international support for the two military operations against Iraq reflects the changing world we live in. The United States was now perceived as an empire-building bully, reacting violently to a bloody nose received on 9/11 courtesy of Osama bin Laden. Immediate, justifiable revenge on Afghanistan for harboring the al-Qaeda culprits was now being extended to other troublesome spots on the newly redrawn map of the world. For all its valiant attempts at holding back the bloodlust of the United States, the United Nations failed. Its only consolation was the postwar failure of the US to find the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq which had been used as the moral justification for invasion.
Had America and its small group of allies been hoodwinked by some unseen forces who were secretly bent on the removal of Saddam for their own reasons, or was the question of WMDs really irrelevant? When history unfolds in a chaotic way, conspiracy theorists step in to try to unravel the true forces at work, and these forces are invariably secret ones. What were the real reasons for attacking Iraq? Was it for the world's second largest reserves of oil? Or was it simply the case of a son wrapping up his father's unfinished business? If it was either of these—or bearing in mind the Bush family's oil interests, a combination of these—why is it so hard to admit it? "Yeah, we did it for the oil and I wanted to make my dad proud."
The reasons are because politicians never reduce international relations to the level of childhood truths. Politicians on the international stage are diplomats, a word originating from the ancient Greek meaning "two-faced." They are always wearing two faces, one for the foreigners and one for their own country. They say one thing but probably mean another. Conspiracy theorists are aware of this, but their general unwillingness to believe what politicians say leads them to view all politicians as two-faced, not just the ones dealing with international relations.
There was a time, during the 1980s, when the United Nations headquarters in New York was popularly viewed as a hotbed of Soviet spies working for the destruction of the United States from within its enemy borders, yet protected by diplomatic immunity. The United Nations became the target of the American militia movement, which used the Posse Comitatus Act as justification for bearing arms against the imminently perceived UN attack. As a conspiracy-based movement, the militia must surely have taken no comfort in the subsequent decreased threat of the UN as the USSR collapsed and the UN took a supporting role in the first Gulf conflict, yet found renewed evidence supporting their suspicions in the most recent war. The militia are given as an example here of the more extreme views on the danger of a new world order. They seem to ignore the fact that their own country is the single most powerful component of the United Nations, and any attempt to govern the world would be an American one, not a foreign one. The militia have problems with the federal US government, believing it to be under foreign control, and that the first step in taking over the United States is to outlaw the private ownership of guns. The constitutional right to bear arms is one that they will defend with their lives. As the new Islamic terrorist threat enters the militia's mindset, perhaps the United Nations will be spared any further involvement in their conspiracy theories.
When promoting the concept of the new world order, President George H.W. Bush dedicated the freedom of Kuwait to the men who created the United Nations. It may be significant that he was not dedicating it to the United Nations itself, but to its founders. It is my view that the men to whom President Bush was referring are indeed the architects of the new world order, and their influence is still felt today, some 60 years after the founding of the UN. But they are not members of the United Nations organization. They are the single most powerful cabal working behind the scenes, and their pedigree is second to none. Are they the ones pulling the strings?
There is a popular belief that all politicians are puppets. They are controlled by puppet masters who, like the puppeteers on stage, are hidden from sight of the audience. But the strings being pulled are still visible. Some of the audience ignore the strings and accept the puppets for what they really are. It allows them to enjoy the show. But there are also some people who cannot ignore the strings and spend more time wondering what the puppeteers really look like. Conspiracy theorists are like those who cannot ignore the strings. In fact, they sometimes look for strings where none are visible. For these people, politicians become part of the illusion of theater. They are the stars of stage, performers who have learned their lines of script written by others. They are out in the open, backed up by a team of manipulators who work off-stage. The apparent willingness of these controllers to stay out of the limelight intrigues conspiracy theorists. There must be sinister reasons why these people do not seek the limelight themselves. What makes a puppeteer perform the way he or she does? What are they themselves hiding from? Too ugly for the stage? Lacking in the confidence to face the public? Or are they pulling the strings to make the puppet perform actions that they know are beyond their own capabilities?
When the greatest nation on Earth elected to have a relatively unknown peanut farmer as its president, followed by a former Hollywood B-movie actor, conspiracy theorists could not help but look for the strings. Jimmy Carter introduced us to the influence of the Trilateral Commission (more on in Chapter Four), and Ronald Reagan confused us with his Pinocchio-like ability to act without any strings at all.
Whoever the incumbent, he occupies the most powerful position on the planet. Any individual or group bent on world domination should be capable of pulling the strings on the US president.
Skull and Bones
In the most recent presidential election, in 2004, secret powerful forces were at work behind the scenes to get their man into the White House. As George W. Bush was seeking re-election against John Kerry, Republicans and Democrats operated huge party machinery to achieve their respective aims, but in a small crypt-like building on the campus of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, a very old secret society had supreme confidence that one of their old boys would win. In fact, the rather spooky Skull and Bones society could not fail in its quest for power and influence, since both the presidential candidates had passed through its doors. George Bush had been initiated in 1968 and John Kerry in 1966.
Actually, far from being a secret, this affiliation with the Skull and Bones society was well known, thanks to conspiracy theorists' exposure and the general public's increasing awareness of this rather sinister and powerful fraternity at Yale through its previous presidential initiate, George H.W. Bush. It is extremely rare for father and son to be elected to lead a nation, but not rare in the secret world of the Skull and Bones, where family tradition of a Yale education ensured that succeeding generations became "tapped" as Bonesmen and given the official invite, wrapped in a black ribbon and sealed in black wax with the skull and crossbones emblem of the order. The father and grandfather of these presidents, Prescott Bush, was also a member of the Skull and Bones, and was involved in the theft of Geronimo's skull from the Apache leader's grave at Fort Sill, Oklahoma in May 1918. Such criminal pranks are typical of university fraternities the world over, so nothing too sinister should be read into it—unless, of course, you happen to be a member of the Apache tribe or a conspiracy theorist.
The Bush family represent the strongest influence the Skull and Bones have yet wielded upon American politics. There have been a few instances in the past when the crypt at Yale, known to initiates as "the Tomb," has produced nearly the same degree of power in the White House, and these will be looked at in detail. But if we are to search for signs of an organization that pulls strings, then the two Bushes must not be treated as a unity, since there was an eight-year interregnum of the Democrat Bill Clinton. How does he fit into the conspiracy of the Skull and Bones? Although he graduated from Yale, he was not a member of the Skull and Bones, or any of the other secret societies on campus (and there are several, including the almost equally influential Scroll and Key). Could the Yale connection actually be more important as a source of influence? It does become more significant when yet another Yale graduate, Gerald Ford, is added to the list. That's four presidents over a thirty-year period: four out of only six men who held the most powerful position in American and world politics. Is this evidence of a Yale conspiracy? No, for the simple reason that there is no secretive element to it, whereas the Skull and Bones has it in spades.
Excerpted from WHO REALLY RUNS THE WORLD by Thom Burnett, Alex Games. Copyright © 2007 Conspiracy Books. Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
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